My latest design project was the front garden of a home in Riverstone, the new community in Madera. The welcoming entry and green door of the front immediately caught my eye, but the installed landscape was lackluster.
I have never been a fan of plants in linear plantings, unless, of course, it is to break a fence line. Builders, however, seem to love this design! Low maintenance is the goal, but you end up with evergreens either overgrown or clipped down so repeatedly by gardeners, that they look like identical spheres lined up in your landscape. It also neglects a necessary garden element: COLOR!
Something I took into consideration was the use of existing plants. In this instance, I kept 'Little Ollie', an evergreen dwarf shrub. With so many placed in the original design, I was able to keep nine of them! I encourage repositioning those plants into mixed borders to show them off, instead of mass planting them, which can make small yards look bland.
Another aspect of the landscape that needed to be addressed was the size of existing trees. I love BIG trees (35 feet and taller and just as wide), but most new developments cannot sustain them. To keep them smaller in stature, they end up butchered. When planting trees, plant according to the space where they will be able to grow to their mature height with proper trimming. Check out this blog post for small tree recommendations.
My client had a desire for variety in the landscape: a mix of perennials, evergreens and fewer annuals for lower maintenance. Contrasting foliage textures and color is my favorite way to achieve this. The purple leaves of loropetalum pair nicely with golden abelia. Just as the texture of lambs ear can soften the edges of lawn. Add in color with perennials and roses and you have an appealing landscape that stands out from the rest.